Recording equipment and recording method
If programs are always recorded according to a decision that is made-based on the user preferences survey results or specific categories and user's recording instruction, the user will lose the opportunity to view programs of categories other than the user preferences. Further, if the entire viewable broadcast is recorded without any selection, a problem arises that there are required greatly increased storage capacity and greatly increased capacity of processing the bit rate required for the recording. According to the present invention, a rate converter is provided for changing a bit rate for each channel, the history of programs that have been viewed by the user is recorded as the usage history, the usage tendency of the user is extracted from the usage history with an agent, a decision is made as to whether the program selected for each channel matches the usage tendency of the user, and in case of matching the program is recorded on the recording medium without varying a bit rate allowing the high-quality video to be maintained, whereas when the selected program does not match the usage tendency of the user, the program is recorded on the recording medium upon conversion to a lower bit rate.
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1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to recording equipment for recording input information, for example, television broadcast over a long period of time.
2. Description of the Related Art
The conventional recording equipment, for example, as disclosed in Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 2000-261750, comprises main recording means for storing the received broadcast information based on the user's recording instructions and auxiliary recording means for information compressing and recording the broadcast that is being viewed, while the user is viewing the received broadcast information. Such an equipment automatically decides as to whether the recording should be made based on the category or user preferences.
Further, Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 8-180504 discloses the equipment for recording based on the decision concerning the presence of a frequently received program which is made with a channel history memory.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
If programs are always recorded according to a decision that is made based on the user preferences survey results or specific categories and user's recording instruction, the user will lose the opportunity to view programs of categories other than the user preferences. Further, if the entire viewable broadcast is recorded without any selection, a problem arises that there are required greatly increased storage capacity and greatly increased capacity of processing the bit rate required for the recording. It is an object of the present invention to enable the reproduction of a program matching the user preferences in a high-quality video.
The present invention provides a recording equipment comprising at least one tuner capable of receiving a broadcast of a plurality of channels and rate converters for changing a bit rate for each channel after separation when the output of the tuner includes a plurality of channels which have been multiplexed, wherein the history of the programs that have been viewed by the user is recorded as the usage history, the usage tendency of the user is extracted from the usage history with an agent, a decision is made as to whether the program selected for each channel matches the usage tendency of the user, and in case of matching, the recording is made on a recording medium directly at a bit rate allowing the high-quality video to be maintained, whereas when the usage tendency of the user is not matched, recording is made on the recording medium upon conversion to a low bit rate.
As described above, according to the present invention, broadcasted programs can be recorded and viewed by providing a storage medium with relatively small storage capacity.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:
While we have shown and described several embodiments in accordance with our invention, it should be understood that disclosed embodiments are susceptible of changes and modifications without departing from the scope of the invention. Therefore, we do not intend to be bound by the details shown and described herein but intend to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims.
An embodiment of the present invention will be described below.
Further, the recording and reproducing unit comprises a tuner 10, a DeMUX (demultiplexer) 11 for demultiplexing the stream of digital broadcasting of the tuner output into each program or program information, a plurality of rate converters 11a, 11b, 11c, a recording and reproducing control unit 12, a recording medium 13 and a decoder 14.
In the present embodiment, the agent 4 analyzes the usage tendency of the user based on the usage history, determines the program matching the usage tendency from the program guide, passes the program matching the usage tendency through the rate converter 11a at a high bit rate and without compressing, indicates a low-bit rate with a high compression for the program that does not match the usage tendency, converts the bit rate with rate converters 11b, 11c, and records the output thereof on recording medium 13 via recording and reproducing control unit 12. Usage history 5 is obtained by agent 4 extracting and recording the usage information (for example, category, performer, program contents, and the like) of the programs that have been used and reproduced by the user from decoder 14 or recording and reproducing control unit 12.
The program that has been recorded or is being recorded is read out from recording medium 13 into recording and reproducing control unit 12 and decoded with decoder 14, and video is thereafter displayed on display unit 7. Recording and reproducing control unit 12 thus executes recording and reproduction of a plurality of programs by multitask processing. Here, the upper limit of the bit rate handled in recording and reproducing control unit 12 may be in general no more than a total sum of bit rates of all video data handled by multitask processing.
Further, the analysis of the usage tendency of the user may be handled as a program which is simply repeated each week from the weekday and time it was used, based on the usage history. Further, a keyword of a category or performer may be extracted from the program information and the program guide may be searched by the extracted keyword. Further, the keyword can be also determined by reference to the usage history or may be set by the user. The usage history 5 can be also recorded separately by a plurality of users. It is the user who sets which of the above-mentioned information groups will have preference. For example, some users can make settings such that great importance will be attached to the history information relating to a performer. Further, the history information may be reset according to a period in which the program of TV station is changed.
On the other hand, video data of SDTV format that has already been recorded at 6 Mbps is read out from the recording medium 13. Therefore, recording and reproducing control unit 12 and recording medium 13 are required to have a capacity of processing data at least at a bit rate of 37.5 Mbps.
In the present embodiment, with the usual recording without rate conversion, a total of 46 Mbps (20+20+6) data has to be recorded, whereas recording in which the preference tendency is decided upon with the agent can reduce this amount to a total of 31.5 Mbps.
When programs of a plurality of streams are received, a plurality of sets of tuners, DeMUX, and rate converters (not shown in the figures) may be provided.
Further, rate converter 11c may also conduct transcoding from MPEG2 that was digitally broadcasted to MPEG4 or other video compressing format. In this case the video data of MPEG 2 may be encoded from an intermediate stage of a decoder to another video compressing format, without 100% decoding.
Furthermore, when a plurality of programs identical in video and differing in audio, for example, languages, are broadcasted or when the same program is broadcasted several times in the same day with a shift in time, presetting the selection conditions will allow the program with the same video information to be recorded automatically only one time.
In the present embodiment, in case of usual time shift reproducing without double recording, 41.5 Mbps (20+1.5+20) data has to be recorded and reproduced whereas double recording can reduce the total bit rate of recording and reproducing to 31.5 Mbps.
A communication unit 15 and a second recording medium 13′ can be provided as additional components with respect to the configuration shown in
Further, a configuration may be also employed in which receiving units 16a, 16b each containing one tuner and one rate converter can be attached and detached separately from each other. The advantage of the configuration composed of such receiving units is that the number of receiving units may be increased, if necessary, according to the number of channels that the user will receive at the same time and the configuration can be easily changed. Further, it is also possible to increase the number of such receiving units in the above-described configuration for digital broadcast and to conduct simultaneous recording of digital broadcast and analog broadcast.
Furthermore, when the number of channels that can receive analog broadcast is larger than the number of tuners, they can be selected in order of priority channels that were assigned with priority based on the user preferences and recommended program, and the channel selected by a specific tuner may be changed by changing the program as time elapses.
Further, by employing the difference in the recording bit rates, it is also possible to provide a function of conducting the reproducing operation with skipping of the next commercial. during reproduction. When using the system, the user may directly supply an instruction of changing the bit rate of recording to the operation unit.
Therefore, it is possible to detect automatically when a SDTV video is broadcasted as HDTV and to record a small amount of data, practically without quality degradation.
By opening the aforesaid usage guides separately for a plurality of users makes it possible to accumulate the preference information for each user and to display usage guides for reproducing the recorded program matching the preferences of each user.
Further the broadcasting in accordance with the present invention can be assumed to include not only analog and digital broadcasting, but also data or information such as streaming via a communication circuit. In such a case, an interface adapted for networking is used instated of tuner 10.
As described above, the present invention enables program recording that can be used at user's discretion.
1. Recording equipment for recording programs containing video, comprising:
- an input terminal to which programs are provided;
- an information acquirer which acquires information relating to the programs that are received at the input terminal;
- a rate converter which converts a bit rate of the program provided;
- a recorder and reproducer which records and reproduces the program for which the bit rate has been converted;
- a memory which stores the information relating to the programs that were viewed by the user, among the programs that have been provided; and
- a controller which controls the bit rate in the rate converter based on the information stored in the memory and the information acquired by the information acquirer.
2. The recording equipment according to claim 1 wherein when a program is recorded, the controller increases the bit rate in the rate converter when the program and a usage tendency of the user match more closely.
3. The recording equipment according to claim 2 wherein the controller ranks programs based on the usage tendency, and a program is recorded with a higher bit rate as the programs is ranked higher.
4. The recording equipment according to claim 1 wherein when the program is a specific program, the program is recorded with the controller increasing the bit rate in the rate converter regardless of the information stored in the memory.
5. The recording equipment according to claim 1 wherein the controller detects a specific scene in the program and varies the bit rate in the rate converter based on the detected scene.
6. The recording equipment according to claim 5 wherein the specific scene is a commercial, and the controller records this scene at a lower bit rate in the rate converter.
7. The recording equipment according to claim 1 wherein:
- the controller controls the recorder and reproducer so that recording of a program is conducted at a first bit rate and a second bit rate lower than the first bit rate; and
- the program recorded at the second bit rate is reproduced when a special operation is conducted during reproduction of the program recorded at the first bit rate.
8. The recording equipment according to claim 1 wherein the controller increases the bit rate of a recording when the recording is of a high definition television video, and decreases the bit rate when the recording is a standard definition television video.
9. The recording equipment according to claim 1 further comprising:
- a decoder which decodes a video signal reproduced by the recorder and reproducer; and
- a display which displays the video signal decoded by the decoder.
10. A recording method for recording a plurality of programs comprising:
- storing past usage information;
- inputting a plurality of programs;
- acquiring program information for the programs which are input;
- comparing the acquired program information and stored usage information;
- determining the compressing rate of recorded video signals based on the comparison; and
- recording the video signals based on the determined compression rate.
11. The recording method according to claim 10 further comprising the steps of:
- reproducing the recorded program; and
- displaying the reproduced program.
12. The recording method according to claim 10 wherein the step of acquiring program information includes acquiring the program via internet.
13. Recording equipment for recording a plurality of input programs, the equipment comprising:
- an input terminal which accepts input of a plurality of programs having bit rates;
- a rate converter which converts the bit rate of the received program;
- a recorder and reproducer which records and reproduces the program for which the bit rate has been converted by the rate converter based on a usage tendency of the user; and
- a program information creator which creates a program guide of programs recorded by the recorder and reproducer based on the usage tendency of the user.
14. The recording equipment according to claim 13 wherein information relating to the bit rate of the recorded program is added to the program guide.
15. The recording equipment according to claim 14 wherein the program information creator creates a plurality of program guides based on the usage tendencies of a plurality of users respectively.